Ideal Wedding Photography Timeline
On your wedding day, it’s important that your timeline allows for plenty of photographs in the best light possible. Every wedding is different and with the diversity of the cultural aspects of weddings, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact wedding photography timeline template, however, here is what we consider a loose guideline to help you visualize your day and your photography to maximize photographic possibilities on your wedding day.
This is the exact timeline that allows me to ease into the day, create the types of styled detail photos I’m known for and give my clients a stress-free wedding photography experience:
RINGS, DRESS, SHOES, AND OTHER DETAILS – 30 minutes
Having at least 30 minutes for details ensures that we have plenty of time to get that perfect photo of the dress and all bridal attire, rings, shoes, bouquets, the bride’s jewelry and any other important items (such as letters from the groom, borrowed items and the other details of the day.
GETTING READY – 1 Hour
Having an hour of preparation is ideal for our style of wedding photography. During this time, we are getting close ups of the makeup and hair being applied as well as the candid moments of the bride and her glam squad (makeup artist and/or hairdresser), bridesmaids and groomsmen. Also, if the Mom and any other members of the bridal party are present, we will catch them interacting with the bride. Keep in mind that these are some of the most emotional and fun times of the day when brides like top blow off some steam and have fun with their bridesmaids, so you don’t want to cut it short. We encourage a lot of creativity! We will also shoot groom details such as any jewelry and wristwatches, boutonnieres, etc.
BRIDAL PORTRAITS – 30 minutes
Right after prep and the bride is finished getting ready, is the best time for individual portraits of the bride and groom (separately). Besides makeup and hair being completely fresh, the day hasn’t gotten hectic yet so we can take our time and get those perfect portraits. We shoot for a reflective portrait of the bride looking forward to the day — and her life — ahead.
CEREMONY DETAIL AND RECEPTION VENUE – 30 minutes
We recommend 30 minutes to take pictures of the ceremony location preferably before guests arrive, completely set up with no guests or vendors in the area. Before you have the guests seated, it’s important that we are there to capture the complete set up of your ceremony site so we can capture the scene at its best. All the flowers, decorations, alters, huppahs, etc. Also, before the guests are seated, we will take photographs of the reception hall or tent, table arrangements, decor, the wedding cake, favors, and any other special items.
The Ceremony – 30 or 40 minutes
It’s time to get married! We take candid shots of the entire ceremony from multiple angles, with guest reactions. Most ceremony average to be about 30-40 minutes, for longer ceremonies we’ll just make adjustments to the timeline. Cherish these moments – the ceremony will go by so quickly!
COUPLES SESSION – 1 Hour
During the reception, please plan on sneaking out for a couple of night shots for a quick, romantic photo — outside the venue near sunset; under a moonlit sky. We only need 20-30 minutes, the ideal time for this is right after you grab a bite to eat or during the open floor dancing after you’ve danced a few songs and would like a break. Another suggestion would be to get these shots at the very end of the night once all the guests have departed. These may well be the most memorable shots of the day and we are happy to wrap up by taking some beautiful, intimate photos of you.
FORMALS – 1 hour or less
Formal portraits normally take place immediately following the ceremony and should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of your family and the number of guests. Formals are portraits of the bride and groom with their immediate family members, members of wedding party, and any other VIPS. If the wedding is small and intimate, we may shoot a group photo of all the guests. We also recommend being very organized, with a list of groups and helpers from each side of the family to help round people up. We all know how much weddings mean to the immediate family, and we want to make sure we’re capturing enough pictures with them. Wedding Party Photos should be around 45 minutes to 1 hour, as well. During this time, we get a variety of shots in a variety of poses. We start off with the basic, classic photos focused on great expressions and lighting. Then we move into a set of fun and creative shots.
THE RECEPTION – 4 hours +
Time to celebrate! We take candid shots of Introductions, First Dance, Parent Dances, Toasts, Cutting the Cake, Bouquet and Garter Toss, open floor dancing, and any other wedding games or activities. I’ll spend this time to focus on the overall excitement of the couple, bridal party, and guests. Depending on the bride and groom, we can also work the room taking shots of the couple interacting with groups at each individual table. There are two options for photography during this time. (1) You can take formal pictures with each table or (2) we can simply focus on photojournalism, capturing the smiles and hugs as you mingle with each table. If you’re planning on doing formal table shots, please keep in mind that these will take about 3-5 minutes per table. For example, 20 tables would require 60-100 minutes of time.
OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Keep in mind that 1) the day will fly by, 2) most weddings run slightly behind schedule, and 3) we’ll make these photo sessions fun, so it won’t seem like a long time.
Most couples invest a substantial amount of time in planning their wedding and it can become a bit overwhelming to attempt to figure out how long everything takes. This post will help guide you through what I consider to be the “ideal” wedding photography timeline. At the end of the day, I just want the ability to shoot what I love, create beautiful images, make the photography portion of the day as enjoyable as possible for everyone, and do so without any stress. My clients deserve that and creating a photography timeline alongside your photographer will ensure that you are giving them everything they need to deliver for you.